Stepping Stones by Elizabeth Morgan

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Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance 

 There’s nothing like a wedding to bring the family together… SteppingStones2_500x750

If not for her baby sister’s impending marriage, Margaret West would never return home. But after six long years, she finds herself a maid of honor who must answer to the people she left behind.

If her parents’ interrogation doesn’t drive her to drink, facing her foster brother, Adrian, just might. To make matters worse, her ex-fiancé is the vicar who will conduct her sister’s ceremony.

Everyone demands to know why she ran off. But the more time she spends at home, the more Margaret realizes even she doesn’t know the real reason.

~Excerpt~ 

“When is Aidy getting here?” Jessica grabbed the large bowl of scrambled eggs and brought it closer to her plate.
“I think his flight is due in at three.” My mother placed a dish of bacon on the table and took a seat beside me. “He will be in time for the wedding rehearsal; don’t worry.”
My stomach clenched. “Wedding rehearsal?” I coughed, trying to clear the chunk of toast lodged in my throat.
“What wedding rehearsal?”
“Today at four. We’re running through the service.” Jess scooped egg onto her plate. “I told you.”
Nervous laughter bubbled in my throat and try as I may, I couldn’t stop shaking my head. “No.” I patted my chest. “No, you never mentioned a rehearsal.”
“Oh.” She placed the bowl back in the middle of the table. “I could have sworn I did.”
“Nope, you didn’t. Believe me, I would have remembered otherwise.” I grabbed my mug and knocked the coffee back before finishing my piece of toast. 
“Well, it’s no big deal.” Edward took the bowl of eggs and helped himself. “Just a quick run-through.”
“Will everyone be there?” Forcing a smile on my face, I looked up at them both, hoping like hell my question would pass as innocent and genuine curiosity.
“Anyone who is involved in the wedding itself will be.”
Great. So that meant Jessica, Edward, the parents, and the bridesmaids, plus me. That left Adrian and…. “Will Vicar Taylor, be there?”
Oh God, did my voice just go higher? 
“Yes, Margaret, William will be there. He is the one who is marrying Jessie and Edward, so he needs to be there.” My
father skewered some bacon and tomatoes onto his fork.
Grimacing, I reached out and grabbed another piece of toast. “Just a question, Pa.” A stupid one, but a question
nevertheless….
“It is normal for people to have wedding rehearsals, Margaret. Just because you—”
Jess picked up the coffeepot. “Does anyone want more coffee?”
I straightened, my focus fixed on Pa. “I’m aware of that.”
“Maggie?”
My father’s shoulders went rigid. He lifted his head and our gazes locked. I didn’t miss the way the muscle in the side of his neck ticked. Arguing with my father in front of Jessica and Edward was not an option, so I looked away.
“Please.” I held out my mug and Jess poured the dark liquid.
I could kick myself. A wedding rehearsal hadn’t even crossed my mind. Having to stand at the altar before William on the actual wedding day would be hard enough, but having to do it twice…my stomach churned.
“So, will Adrian come straight to the church?” Edward cut the awkward silence.
“Yes. He will get a taxi to the church, and then we will bring him and his luggage back here.” My mother held her mug out to Jess.
“Adrian is staying here? Tonight?” I added sugar to my coffee. “Won’t it be crowded? I thought—”
“No more crowded than it was in your childhood.” My father took a bite out of his toast.
More and more good news. Of course he would be staying here; it was his family home after all. I guess, it was stupid of me to hope that he would go to a B&B, but my parents wouldn’t have allowed it even if he did suggest it. I hadn’t seen him in six years, hadn’t spoken to him. And yet, in a couple of hours I would be locked in the same house as him.
 
Buy Links:  Amazon   Barnes and Noble 
~About the Author~ 
Elizabeth lives in a small country village in Cheshire, England, with two cats. You will always find her on the computer, blasting music and writing away. She started life wanting to be an actress because she loved performing. She enjoyed nothing more than being able to make people laugh, to distract them from reality for a few hours. She studied Musical Theatre in college, but during her second year, her mind started to overflow with ideas for scripts and she began writing plays. Slowly over the following three years, she was writing more and more, channeling her imagination into more detailed manuscripts…Here she is, years later, hiding away like a hermit, writing like crazy and loving every minute of it.

Author Links:  Website   Blog   Twitter   Goodreads   Amazon  

~Giveaway~

Elizabeth is giving away two eCopies of Stepping Stones and two Swag packs.
 
For a chance to win please fill out the rafflecopter below.

Soul Fire Lillie J. Roberts

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Genre: YA Fantasy SoulFire MED

What’s worse than finding out the monsters from your nightmares are real? Discovering you’ve spent lifetimes trying to defeat them. . . And lost.

Seventeen-year-old Rena Langley wants her life to be normal. She works hard to not attract attention, to be a face lost in the crowd. A gamer, she succeeds in flying under the radar. Except for the nightmares. They’ve plagued her life and they’re worse than ever.

Petrov DeForest claims that the monsters from her nightmares are deadly real and hunger for the pureness of her soul. She’s starting to think he’s right, even if she doesn’t believe they’ve spent lifetimes together. Then Petrov tells her she has the defense against the monsters held deep within her body, her SoulFire. She’s certain he’s insane. Until the monsters invade her waking hours. Using her SoulFire to defeat the monsters means accepting her destiny.

Ben Foster is a detective investigating the murder of two students at Rena’s high school. Can she be involved? Her name is the last word his partner spoke before being swallowed by the darkness.

Can Rena and Petrov survive? Or will this lifetime end like so many have before?

~Excerpt~

Rena rolled her eyes as she increased the video game’s volume. “Have fun Brea,” she shouted over the racket, ignoring her sister and the news that the relative invasion had begun. She would never begrudge her mother’s time with her only sister, or the injection of testosterone in a house flooded with female hormones, but she didn’t have to like it. Her father and her uncle Ron were friends from way back, at least to their college days. Pretty soon it would be all fishing trips and barbeques.

“He’s been stuck with creepy Eugene all summer, but they’re here now, and he’s all ours!” Brea buzzed, almost quivering, and shot to her feet.

“No, he’s all yours, and Eugene’s not that creepy.” Rena ignored the rest of her sister’s words, slipping the headphones back into place.

“He’s gorgeous… dark wavy hair, big beautiful sapphire blue eyes.” She faked a swoon, once again landing on the bed, but quickly sitting back up. When Rena didn’t respond, Brea pulled the headphones away.

“You gotta see him! But, remember, I saw him first!” She dragged Rena to her feet.

The problem with Brea was that she never had a shortage of boyfriends, and another stupid jock was so not worth Rena’s time.

“Oh, you saw him first all right. Go for it; I’ve had my fill.” Rena tugged her hand from Brea’s clutch. “It’s very okay with me. Besides, I don’t want to deal with relatives or their friends, but you go ahead, have fun.” Rena’s hands found the middle of Brea’s back, prodding her toward the door. Guys were the last thing on Rena’s mind. She remembered the humiliation of being ditched. Her first and only date had left with Brea instead.

“Oh, honestly! Just come and meet him, then you can come back here to brood and hide. Besides, he’s already asked about y-o-u.” Brea crowed as she sucked in another breath. “Isn’t it driving you crazy? Knowing a strange boy has asked about you? Come on, you’re not still mad about Bobby?” Brea squeezed her eyes closed. “It’s not my fault he asked me to go out with him.”

Rena shook her head in disbelief. How could Brea not see how wrong that was? “Oh, no, not me, I’m not mad at all.” She reached down, stroking Random’s soft fur. “Gee-sus, Brea! He dumped me in the living room, and you left with him!” It had all been a ploy to get close to Brea. He was a creep-a-zoid from the outer reaches of Tamriel. Rena tried to imagine him as one of the goons on Skyrim.

Then, she stopped cold, almost dropping the game controller. “What do you mean he asked about me? Why would he think about me? I don’t know him.” Rena wanted to strangle Brea. Now it was going to drive her crazy.

“Come on Ree, say you’re not mad.” Brea fluttered her pretty blonde eyelashes. “Come on, I’d do it for you.” She pushed out her bottom lip in a pout, giving Rena her best imitation of puppy dog eyes.

Rena snorted a laugh, covering her mouth with her hands. “You’re delusional Brea.”

“Oh, come on, you know you have got to meet this guy! It could be your destiny!” Brea breathed with wonder as she wheedled. “Besides, Mom said to come get you, to introduce you to our company. Want me to go back and tell her you said no?” Her toe started to tap an annoying beat.

Rena squeezed her eyes closed. “Okay, all right, don’t get your panties in a bunch.” She eyed Brea, and thought, the sooner I get it over with the better. “Fine, I’ll come meet your Petrov whatever, but don’t say I didn’t do you any favors.” Rena heaved a sigh, dragging her feet as she followed her sister out of the room, Random close to her side.

Brea hurried ahead to the living room where the others waited. When Rena finally made her way down the hall, dog quivering at her side, Brea snatched up her hand.

“Ree, meet Petrov, Petrov, my sister Rena,” Brea gushed as she released Rena’s hand to grab Petrov’s.

Rena could only stand and stare. His eyes… His sapphire gaze faded to an icy blue as she became aware of his critical appraisal, and she felt like a bug on display.

Buy Links:   Amazon   Midnight Frost Books 

~About the Author~

Lillie J. Roberts is a multi-published author who loves to reviews books as well. Lillie (a.k.a Dottie at Tink’s Place), enjoys sharing her thoughts about the books she’s read. Stop by sometime, let her know what your think. Her preferred genre is paranormal romance, the darker the better, though if you give her a good thriller/chiller and she’s happy too. She loves all types paranormal creatures from vampires, were- creatures, witches, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. She loves a good ghost story, so if you have one, share it with her. The scariest book she’s ever read is a toss up between Bram Stroker’s Dracula or Stephen King’s It (both gave her nightmares).

Lillie lives in central Illinois with her husband, three children, and one wild Westie (who is also her reading and critique partner; he listens to all her new story ideas, almost always with a wicked sense of humor). She is an animal lover as are her heroines and heroes (and no, that doesn’t include insects or spiders). She loves movies and listens to them while she writes, it doesn’t matter if they’re old or new, as long as they’re engaging. She enjoys all kinds of music, especially if it has a hard driving beat. You’ll find some on her favorite artists mentioned in the pages of her books. She writes Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Chillers/Thillers, Suspense from Modern Contemporary to New Adult and YA, from sweetly innocent to naughty romance. She tends to be a genre bender, mixing her genres to provide an unique read.

Author Links:   Amazon   Facebook   Twitter   Site   Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Vlad Tepes, Vigilante Vampire by Lillie J. Roberts

 

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Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

When mankind meets vampire, they have but one hope . . .Vlad Tepes, Vigilante Vampire vtvv-Medium

Vlad Tepes remembers the Black Death, remembers being turned in order to be saved and the years it took to wrestle his beast into submission. With the birth of World War I, his family fled Europe ahead of the invading armies. Eventually, they land in Chicago, forced into a leadership role by the Vampire Hierarchy. Vlad’s always roamed, working to right the wrongs and protect those weaker, a toll for his fledgling misdeeds. Being told to stay in one place chaffs like silver cuffs. Until he meets Sheree Jennings, a local gangster’s daughter. Settling down becomes far more appealing.

Except an ancient evil has also relocated to the windy city with them, dark and demented, an elder vampire whose core is filled with sinister need. But, not all evil comes in the form of a vampire. People are disappearing, putting everyone at risk including Vlad’s love, Sheree. Determined to keep what’s his safe, Vlad uncovers more than vampire politics, or crimes and misdemeanors; an insane plot capable of exposing them all is in the making. Everyone is in danger if he can’t stop their plans, humans and vampires alike. With his life and those he loves held in the balance, he must contain this maniacal scheme or face unending death. . . or worse, eternal loneliness.

~Excerpt~

Old Chicago, that’s what I liked to call this part of the city with its old neighborhoods, the Italians, Irish, Asians, Germans…and the new additions, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Middle Eastern born people. It didn’t make any difference to me, a mass of human population boiling over with need, want, and violence, the same as it always was…but it was also a hunting grounds and that was important to me. You see, injustice never set well with me, and this latest gig as an enforcer, well, it was right up my alley.

Two days had been spent tracking the latest problem that worked his way across our domain. Another being, happy with violence and sickness, unable or unwilling to contain himself. If he wasn’t stopped, how many more would he torture, maim, or kill to satisfy those sick needs?

The night surrounded me and I drew it in tighter, virtually invisible to the human eye, waiting, watching, prowling… What was taking him so long? I had other things to do besides waiting for him to make his move. My patience was wearing thin, and my shoulders rolled with tightness. The night was becoming longer than it needed to be.

Finally, traces of his foul wonderings greeted my mind as he mused about his next victim, hoping she’d scream and beg, hoping she’d plead for her life. Then after a few promises and sure knowledge her life was forfeit, she’d beg for the lives of her husband and daughter. He got a self-induced high off what he planned to do. It disgusted me, reviled me, and yet, it was I who was the monster. He pondered it all as he came closer, and I promised myself, he’d have a taste of his own fear.

There he was! Jaunting down the sidewalk, keys jiggling nervously in his pocket, anxiousness in his footsteps, and eagerness in his dull-brown eyes. He glanced up at the pretty blonde in front of him, his smile widened, his dull eyes lit up. His sharpened pointy canines peeked below his upper lip, but they were only for show. He wasn’t one of my kind but he liked to pretend. It was all about invoking fear and he liked the powerful feeling. So did I.

His footsteps quickened and mine followed his. He was closer now to the object of his desire, almost within touching distance. Almost. He licked his pale thin lips, greasy hair flopped on his forehead, sweat gathered on his brow. Now, his thoughts rang in my ears, his hand lifted, grab her now! With a crumpled up ball of dirty white fabric clutched in his hand, he reached out as he crossed the darkened threshold of the alley. The shadows slipped away from me, and I stepped further back, sliding my sunglasses into place. No need for my eyes to give me away.

There was a muffled scream. I heard her heels scrape along the rough concrete, then his slump against the crumbling brick of the adjoining building. Damn, his thoughts spoke loudly, she’s already passed out. Fun and games’ll have to wait. He kissed the top of her head almost tenderly before he dragged her further into the alley and ran straight into my chest. My arms swallowed both of them, lifting them from the pavement.

“Hey,” he shouted, “get off of me!” Anger rolled off of him in waves. It filled the air, and I felt my beast roll, just a little, inside of me.

My arms opened and they tumbled to the ground. The woman, now a dead weight, landed on top of him and I offered my icy hand. He looked at it and shivered.

“Get away from me,” he threatened, brandishing a razor sharp blade that was wide at the base and narrow at the tip. But blades no longer frightened me.

My eyes closed, nose twitching with the scent of the night air. Pheromones rolled off his body: fear, lust, and one I preferred not to think of, death, all mixed together with the heady floral fragrance of the young woman. It made me greedy to take what he was offering.

Buy Links: Amazon      Smashwords       Crimson Frost Books

~About the Author~

Lillie J. Roberts is a multi-published author who loves to reviews books as well. Lillie (a.k.a Dottie at Tink’s Place), enjoys sharing her thoughts about the books she’s read. Stop by sometime, let her know what your think. Her preferred genre is paranormal romance, the darker the better, though if you give her a good thriller/chiller and she’s happy too. She loves all types paranormal creatures from vampires, were- creatures, witches, ghosts, and other things that go bump in the night. She loves a good ghost story, so if you have one, share it with her. The scariest book she’s ever read is a toss up between Bram Stroker’s Dracula or Stephen King’s It (both gave her nightmares).

Lillie lives in central Illinois with her husband, three children, and one wild Westie (who is also her reading and critique partner; he listens to all her new story ideas, almost always with a wicked sense of humor). She is an animal lover as are her heroines and heroes (and no, that doesn’t include insects or spiders). She loves movies and listens to them while she writes, it doesn’t matter if they’re old or new, as long as they’re engaging. She enjoys all kinds of music, especially if it has a hard driving beat. You’ll find some on her favorite artists mentioned in the pages of her books. She writes Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Chillers/Thillers, Suspense from Modern Contemporary to New Adult and YA, from sweetly innocent to naughty romance. She tends to be a genre bender, mixing her genres to provide an unique read.

Author Links:  Amazon   Facebook   Twitter   Site   Goodreads

 

 

Seeing Stars by Ellie Potts

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Can one secret stop two broken hearts from mending? seeingstar

Alisa, bank clerk by day-self published writer by night, gets a phone call that will change her life. Hollywood wants to make one of her books into a movie. The news comes on the day she starts vacation, excited, she leaves work early to surprise her husband. To her surprise he is already home, and well even more surprising he is sexing up the neighbor in their bed.

Heartbroken and angry she makes a decision to head off to Hollywood on her own. Before the meeting she meets her TV crush Logan Rider. Logan has not only read her book Portals, but he wants to direct the movie. The offer is almost too good to be true! Alisa is thrown into a whirlwind of Hollywood as she sees stars, learns the movie business, and uncovers a few secrets. Secrets that prove actors are just as flawed as regular people. But there is one secret that can destroy Logan’s career. Will Logan be devoured by this secret, or can he find the strength to conquer it with Alisa’s help?

~Excerpt~

“I’m too shy. I was horrible in drama in high school. They teamed me up with my first high school crush on our first partner thing. And I was just trying not to do anything embarrassing. I end up transferring out.”

“What did you take instead?”

“A study class was open.”

“I take it you were bored?”

“Not at all. I wrote.”

“I wish I had some other talent.”

“You act,” Alisa replied.

“Well, yes, but I wish I could do something else. Do you have any other hobby then writing?”

“I knit.”

“Well that is something I would like to learn.”

“I do it on looms. It is pretty simple.”

“Can you show me?” Dawn asked her eyes shining with anticipation.

“Sure.”

“Cut!” Roman shouted. “Okay we are going to set up for Logan and Dawn. Ten minutes!”

Ray Day sat down heavily in a chair beside them. “I really hope we get done soon. I have to start Twin Falls in a month, and I really wanted a few days off. I want to have mimosas and spend a kidless day in Disney.”

“If my kids found out I went without them they would shank me,” Dawn said seriously.

“You break too easy. Send them to school and get your Disney on.”

“I heard Disney what is going on?” Logan said as he walked over to them.

“I was talking about mimosas and then Disney without kids,” Ray said with a small sigh. “Before I have to go to Canada to film Twin Falls.”

“I will pass on the mimosas, but would love some Disney time. It’s been a few months. How about you Alisa, when was the last time you went to Disney?”

“Uh—” She thought about it. “Maybe ten years I want to say.”

“Do you not like Disney?”

“I love Disney, it is just kind of expensive to go,” she said, shrugging.

Logan put his hand on her shoulder. “Maybe we need to make a trip.”

“No trips!” Roman shouted. “Dawn and Logan, come on.”

Ray sighed again watching Logan leave. “That ass is amazing.” He looked at her. “I see that smile. You can agree.”

“I do agree.”

“Good. Step one of surviving actors. Some of us are loud and outspoken, don’t be shy jump in.”

“Check, jump in.”

“It’s nice seeing Logan happy. After the breakup he was so sad. I believe he thought she was the one.” She watched Logan and Dawn have an argument, until someone said the wrong line and they started giggling.

“CUT!” Roman screamed making Alisa flinch.

“Step two. Some directors are just assholes. You just learn to deal.” Logan turned to them and winked.

“Check, assholes.”

“You are cute. I think we need to go on a double date.”

“I have no double,” she said turning to Ray.

“There is Logan.”

“Ah—We’ve only known each other for two days.”

Ray shrugged. “You guys could have been married and divorced by now, you know typical celebrity life.”

They laughed as they turned back to watch. After Dawn and Logan it was the whole cast, then Logan and his pretend off and on crazy girlfriend. Alisa watched Roman, she watched the stage hands, she watched the camera people, sound people, and all the rest.

A little nagging voice sprang forward. You don’t belong here.

But I want to belong here, she replied to the voice.

Buy Links: 

Amazon

~About the Author~

Somebody told Ellie Potts you had to be rich to be eccentric otherwise you were plain crazy. She set out to prove them wrong doing things she was told she couldn’t do like dressing for pirate and renaissance faires, get her stories published, playing video games, planning to survive a zombie apocalypse, and other antics most women stay away from.

She is also a Whovian, Browncoat, Star Wars addict, and collector of arcane knowledge. Now she lives in California’s Central Valley where most of her stories and books take place. Her and her husband are owned by their attack Bugg, and her red eared slider turtle minion who live in the backyard.

Author Links:  Site   Blog    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads

 

 

 

Hood’s Obsession by Marie Hall

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Hood’s Obsession (Kingdom, #9) by Marie Hall

Publication Date: July 19, 2014

Genre: Fantasy Romance

BLURBHoodsObsession

Erualis’ time is running out and now Rumpelstiltskin says there are only two who can save him…

Lilith Wolf, the daughter of the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood has a problem, she’s an unmated female in heat. She has to get away from the males of her village unless she wants to find herself involuntarily hand fasted to the first one to tame her wolf. So when Giles Damien comes to her calling due the pact she’d signed with Rumpelstiltskin years ago, she doesn’t really think twice about the fact that she’ll be journeying to Fyre Mountain, even though that means she’ll be crossing paths with an angry water dragon, a pub full of rowdy Merry Men, and rock dwarves with a taste for flesh… For an alpha female that’s an adventure. No problem. Find the Chalice of Hope, come back home, and life will return back to normal again.

But she hadn’t counted on an honorable Giles Damien to intrigue not only her female sensibilities, but her wolf too. He’s a warrior, but he’s sweet, he’s patient, and he’s altogether different from the aggressive, rough males of her village. Problem is Giles is a demone, and everyone knows they don’t mingle outside of their species. But now her sights are set on him and she’s going to make it her mission to prove to the stubborn headed demone that sometimes love can come from the most unexpected of circumstances…

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22396251-hood-s-obsession?from_search=true

PURCHASE LINKS:

http://www.amazon.com/Hoods-Obsession-Kingdom-Book-9-ebook/dp/B00LWWWB66/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405898797&sr=8-1&keywords=hood%27s+obsession

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hoods-obsession-marie-hall/1119967117?ean=2940149739691

Excerpt:

Lilith Wolf ran like her life depended on it.

Mainly because it did.

They were closing in fast.

Two from the left side, three from the right, and they were catching up. They were men, but covered in fur, and they were coming in hard.

“Keep running, girl,” the leader growled. “We love it when they run.”

His voice was a bassy rumble, a mix between man and beast. Heart in her throat, she called to her animal, the wolf that lived and breathed inside of her. It pulsed, hungry and violent. Ready to defend her.

The men laughed. Great wolf, they were gaining. They were so close. Way too close. She could practically feel their breath on her neck.

Her skin shivered, throbbed with the energy of the shift and then…the wolf exploded out. She shed her skin, becoming nothing but muscle and fur, and the woods were alive.

The wolf was wild, free, unhindered by things like emotion. Fear, anger, pain…none of it mattered except the need to run.

Her muscles bunched and gathered and her giant paws practically tore up the ground beneath her as she swerved around giant weeping willows whose branches soared into the heavens.

The sun was setting; soon the moon would be the only light in the sky. If she could just reach home, then she’d be safe.

She had never expected when she’d planned her trip to her girlfriend’s house that tonight, of all nights, her body would suddenly explode into heat. She was two weeks off from the date she and her family had expected.

Which wasn’t terribly shocking, it happened, but for it to happen now…on her way home, all alone in the hollers of the shifters’ den. This was bad.

Very, very bad.

Panting, she urged her body to move faster, almost blinded by the pounding adrenaline rolling through her. Her vision had narrowed down to a pinprick of light; all she could see was one paw going in front of the other. One tree flashing by on the left and then the right.

Her keen hearing though could sense the pending footfalls of alphas on the hunt.

For her.

Her hackles rose at the thought. As long as she could stay just a couple hundred steps ahead, she’d be out of range of their call.

But her muscles were quivering and the adrenaline was starting to turn to shock.

And then, like an answer to a prayer, she saw the top of her family’s chimney just ahead, and the sight of it lifted her flagging spirits, giving her muscles an extra jolt of speed. She was so close. So unbelievably close, and just as she was about to release a yip of relief she felt the heated waft of breath brush the side of her sensitized ear.

And then a giant body plowed into her middle, knocking her senseless and tossing her to the ground. Snarling, she jumped to her feet, snapped her jaws at the red-haired leader who’d still not fully shifted, and darted away.

“Run, but I’ll get you,” he called out with his hands cupped around his mouth. “I’ll always get you, Lilith! You will be mine.”

Then he howled, and if she’d not been half-human and capable of reasoning, if her human side didn’t hate St. John the way she did, she’d have turned back around. She’d have gone to him, because he’d thrown out the mating call and her wolf wanted it.

But even as her human side knew to keep going, her wolf whimpered inside her. Because the wolf was in heat and that was basic and elemental, St. John was a strong alpha male and that was the only distinction her wolf needed.

Then another howl, and another. Three more, all joining in chorus, and she whimpered, her claws gouged into the earth as she stopped, pulled up short by the instinctual need to go to him. To crawl to that vile, repulsive male.

She whined as the call grew louder.

No. No. She screamed it at her wolf. Don’t go. This is a trap.

But the drive was just too strong.

Brain and body at complete odds, she turned and whimpered her way back to the circle of men. They stood, holding hands, the alpha drawing his strength from his pack. His brown eyes glimmering with the threat of violence and sex.

Violent sex. The claiming of a wolf. They’d all wanted her, daughter of the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood—she was a conquest, sport. A notch on their belt, that was it. They wanted to take what was hers and turn it foul, tarnish it, ruin her for another.

At least her family would be expecting her return anytime now. They’d come looking for her. Her brothers would kill St. John if they ever discovered how he’d used pack magic against her. She crawled on her paws and belly, screaming at the wolf to stop.

“That’s right, you beauty,” St. John cooed. “Come to your master.”

She snarled and he laughed.

“You cannot deny me, Lilith, I am an alpha.” And the moment he said the name, the collective power of the pack slammed into her like a rolling tide and she knew this nightmare was real.

She would be raped, tainted, all because he could.

It wasn’t that St. John wasn’t good looking; up until last year he’d been a mate. A friend. She’d considered him as an option briefly, but he had a temper, and when shifters mated, it was for life. She was picky. So she’d slowly begun pulling away from him, giving him every hint she could that she was not interested. Making a point to sit as far away from him during gatherings as possible, giving only monosyllabic answers to any questions he’d ask, never making eye contact. All subtle hints that she was not interested.

And even so, three months ago he’d asked for her hand.

He should never have done that. Should never have demanded she tell him the truth. Because the moment she’d denied him, she’d sensed his immediate shift from cordial friendship to dangerous obsession. Wolves hated to be denied, but most especially alphas.

She watched in horror as his fingers slowly undid one button of his shirt at a time. Not only was he going to rape her, but he was going to do it to her while in his half-turned form.

Doing that while she was fully wolf would show not only dominance, but disdain. That he could overpower her even as a man.

She whinnied when the stench of his arousal brushed her sensitive nose. He reeked of male musk, a horrible, fishy stench. Now her wolf finally seemed to understand what was going on, because she snorted the scent. Offended by its repulsive odor.

Finally her wolf did not recognize this alpha as its mate. If she had the scent would have been clean, crisp, intoxicating. But now it was too late; she was locked under the power of the alpha’s call.

He dropped the shirt to the ground. St. John was covered in a furry carpet of red all along his arms and torso. She shook her head even as her paws dragged her into the center of the circle.

“Cover her eyes, boys,” St. John laughed.

Then she was set upon, but still under her thrall she couldn’t move. Could only scream in her head as hands tied a velvet mask around her eyes.

Shivering, trembling, she whimpered and awaited her fate.

Cries and howls suddenly exploded around her and the power locking her limbs in place was gone. But these cries weren’t ones of jubilation and conquest, but raw, visceral fear and pain.

Terrified, she jumped to her feet, shaking her head from side to side to release the mask. Had her brothers found her trail?

But if they had, why wasn’t she scenting them? She smelled smoke and brimstone. Not altogether displeasing, but not the fresh earthiness of her clan. What was going on?

Growling, she rubbed her head against tree bark to peel the damnable mask off. She debated whether to shift back to human form but quickly dismissed the idea. Stronger as the wolf, she knew she had no choice but to remain as she was.

There were grunts and hard exhalations of breath, a body being slammed. Then another. More howls. And then finally silence.

Standing stock still she listened to the rustle of dry leaves dance on the grassy meadow. To the chatter of squeaking mice. The hoot of an owl. The breeze smelled of apples and flowers and something dark…something dangerous.

Only one heartbeat besides her own remained in these woods. The mask was only half off; all she could see were her paws and the ground. Pulse racing she stood on edge waiting for the…whatever…to come at her. She could hear its breathing; it hadn’t gone anywhere.

The longer she waited, the louder her instinct became that this predator meant her no actual harm.

Realizing she needed more information than what her nose could give her, Lilith put her wolf to sleep by calling her shifting fire with no small amount of trepidation and shifted into her human form quicker than she’d ever done before. Yanking the bloody mask off her face the moment she was able.

An ebony-skinned man with hair like shadow and gleaming red eyes stared back at her. Dressed in dark jeans and shirt, he’d have almost blended into the darkness around them if it weren’t for the strange, luminescent sheen that rippled just beneath his skin. Like coals that’d been banked but still burned with a light glow of fire.

In his hand was a sword stained with blood. There were no wolves around, no dead bodies… It was just her and him.

“Lilith Wolf,” he said in a seductively smooth drawl, “come with me.”

AUTHOR BIO:

Marie Hall is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author who loves books that make you think, or feel something. Preferably both. And while she’s a total girly girl and loves glitter and rainbows, she’s just as happy when she’s writing about the dark underbelly of society. Well, if things like zombies, and vampires, and werewolves, and mermaids existed. (Although she has it on good authority that mermaids do in fact exist, because the internet told her so.)

She’s married to the love of her life, a sexy beast of a caveman who likes to refer to himself as Big Hunk. She has two awesome kids, lives in Hawaii, loves cooking and occasionally has been known to crochet. She also really loves talking about herself in the third person.

If you want to see what new creations she’s got up her sleeves check out her blog.

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Excerpt for More Than Pancakes

More Than Pancakes Button 500 x 375

 

Book Blurb:

Contemporary Romance

80,000 words Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00062]

Lily Hinsdale spends her California days designing extravagant hotels for Utopia Resorts. Her nights are filled with the glitz and glamour of upscale parties. Until her grandmother dies and leaves Lily property in wretched Vermont. The woods mean only one thing to Lily—nightmares. When Utopia wants the land for development, Lily is forced to travel to a place she’d rather forget.

Rick Stannard makes maple syrup and builds barns in the peace and quiet of picturesque Vermont. Noisy New York City nearly killed him a few years back, and now he lives a calm, simple life with his coyote, Poe, and his beloved book collection. It’s the only way he’s guaranteed to wake up each morning.

When Lily marches her expensive boots onto Rick’s land and proposes turning it into a mega resort, the serenity of the woods is shattered. Lily always closes a deal. Rick never intends to sell. They’ll need to compromise, or someone else will do it for them. Someone who is not afraid of the woods or the city.

Or spilling a little blood.

Buy Links:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Pancakes-Maple-Leaf-ebook/dp/B00KLOWX4G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1401629738&sr=1-1&keywords=more+than+pancakes

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/more-than-pancakes-christine-depetrillo/1119618502?ean=9781498947824&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-je6NUbpObpQ-_-10:1&r=1

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/More-Than-Pancakes/cjEDwOJk402FGrJgM_GA1w?MixID=cjEDwOJk402FGrJgM_GA1w&PageNumber=1

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id883017533?mt=1

Print: http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Pancakes-Maple-Series/dp/1499708912/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1402250112&sr=8-1

First Chapter:

“Leave it, Poe. Quit fooling around.”

Rick Stannard wrestled his glove away from his coyote. She was forever burying, slobbering all over, or chewing holes in his good work gloves. Ever since he’d rescued the abandoned, starving pup from the woods at the edge of his property, he’d been living with the eccentricities of having an animal meant for the wild living in his cabin. He’d trained her. Knew she wouldn’t attack him while he slept, but now and then, her feral nature would flare up. Poe considered it playing, and most of the time so did Rick, but today he had to insert the taps on his maple trees and inspect the lines. The sap was about to run and that meant the Stannard Mountain Pure Vermont Maple Syrup Company—Rick’s company—was all systems green.

“C’mon, you beast. We don’t have all morning to waste. We’ve got work to do.” Rick gave a final tug that freed his glove from Poe’s jaws. He stumbled back, landing on his backside on the hickory floor of his small kitchen. “Brat.” He swiped Poe’s muzzle with his glove.

The coyote licked his hand and happily trotted beside Rick as he went into the garage to load his sled with the necessary tools. Clothed in his snow pants, thermal shirt, fleece jacket, knit hat, boots, and snowshoes, Rick was ready for a day out on his three-hundred acre property in the woods of Danton, Vermont. He’d upgraded his equipment, all gravity-fed lines, about three years back. The only assistance he accepted was from his aunt, Joy Stannard, and his cousins, Hope and Sage, who ran the bakery and book swap storefront of the business during the late winter and early spring months. Customers needed a cozy, friendly little shop from which to purchase their maple products. Rick didn’t do cozy or friendly, but Aunt Joy and his cousins excelled in both areas.

Leaving the sled outside, he pushed open the door to the storefront and let Poe scurry in first.

“Morning, Rick! I was thinking if we arranged the tables this way, it would allow for more interaction between customers, and if the customers interact more, this place could become the social center of Danton. It would mean more sales, more book swapping, more action. Sometimes this place can be such a tomb, but with the tables like this, maybe some hot, interesting guys will come in and whisk me away to—”

Rick held up two hands to stop Hope from continuing her verbal assault. Too much. Too early.

“Sorry.” Hope pushed in a chair at one of the tables she’d moved. “I forgot you aren’t a morning person.”

“Isn’t much of an afternoon or evening person either,” Sage, Hope’s sister, called from behind the pastry case where she had been vacuuming the shelves.

Rick shot her a glare to which she responded with a snarl that ended in a grin.

“What brings you amongst the people, Grouch?” Sage gathered her long, blond hair into a ponytail then leaned against the pastry case.

Rick pointed down to his winter attire. “What does it look like I’m going to do?”

“Sumo wrestle with Bigfoot?” Hope offered, making Sage chuckle.

“If you weren’t so busy turning this place into a dating club, you’d know what’s going on.” Rick pulled his glove off to scratch Poe between the ears as the coyote pushed her muzzle into his knee.

“I’m not turning it into a dating club, Rick.” Hope gestured to the tables arranged in a tight little formation that made him a little claustrophobic. “It looks better this way, doesn’t it?”

“It looked fine the old way.” Rick shrugged.

“How is it that you’re only six years older than me but seem as if you’re eighty-six years older?” Sage asked. “Change is good, old man.”

He knew Sage was only busting his chops, but it stung a little today. He didn’t know why, which made him feel exactly like an old man.

“I don’t care what you do with the tables, Hope, as long as there are tables and they’re clean.” Rick headed for the door. “Where’s Aunt Joy?” And why do I want her around? Because Hope and Sage are picking on me? Foolish.

“She went into town to buy some fabric. Don’t freak out, Rick.” Hope grabbed his biceps and opened her brown eyes real wide as she stood on tiptoes in a useless attempt to look him in the eye. “She wants to make new curtains for these windows. Now I realize she didn’t clear it with you first, O Master of Keeping the Status Quo, but I don’t think a curtain change will destroy the world as we know it.”

Rick growled at Hope, and she laughed along with Sage. Even Poe let out a few short barks that sounded like chuckling.

“Whose side are you on, mutt?” He nudged Poe with his knee, and the coyote let out a whimper of apology.

“You headed out now?” Sage asked.

“Yep.”

“Take this.” Sage placed a thermos on top of the pastry case and slid it toward him. “Minestrone like no other, Cuz.”

For all her poking fun, Sage took care of him just as Aunt Joy and Hope did. They were his family, all he had. All he needed.

“Thanks.” He took the thermos and held it out of Poe’s reach as the coyote tried to climb up his leg for it. “Down. No meat in this one.” He tapped her on the nose, and Poe sank to all fours. Even if the soup did have meat in it, he wasn’t sharing. Everything Sage made tasted like heaven. That was what made her a fantastic caterer when it wasn’t sugaring season. She was busy cooking all times of the year. And her cookies? Off the charts tasty.

“I’ve got some website updates I’ve been working on.” Hope gestured to her laptop on one of the tables she’d moved. She handled all their online sales, promotional materials, and website. She was awesome at it too, which was good because Rick didn’t want to handle that stuff. Lots of people didn’t want to handle that stuff, so Hope was busy with that work in the off season.

“Okay,” Rick said. “Make them happen. I’m sure it’s all good.”

Hope patted his cheek. “I love that I have you trained to believe I’m always right.”

“Except when you move my tables.”

Hope stuck her tongue out at him then said, “Don’t get lost out there.”

“Have I ever?” Rick zipped the front of his fleece coat.

“No,” Sage said, “but we can dream.” She smiled sweetly and turned on the vacuum again.

He could still hear his cousins’ laughter as he left the store with Poe on his heels. He put on his hat and picked up the cable attached to his sled. A day out in the tranquility of the woods stretched before him, and he couldn’t think of a more perfect way to spend his time. The morning sky was clear, and a fresh snow had fallen last night making his property seem like uncharted territory, free from any indications of civilization.

On a whistle, Rick and Poe headed out. His snowshoes cut a trail across the blank white page of his land, and he fell into the easy rhythm of his work. He moved at a steady pace, covering more ground than he’d expected. The terrain was a bit hilly in this section of the sugar bush, but he pushed onward. He chewed up some of his time watching a moose and her calf at the edge of the still frozen Cassie’s Pond. The cow’s ears constantly twitched as she listened for signs of danger. The baby huddled beside her, its thick brown coat lightly dusted with snow.

When a hawk cried overhead, the cow nudged her baby and the two wandered deeper into the woods. Woods that weren’t a part of Rick’s property, but were tapped by him. When he’d first started his syrup business on his land, he’d cut a deal with his neighbor to lease and tap her trees. She received a specified amount of money per tap for the intrusion, which she didn’t seem to mind, and Rick always supplied her with free syrup every year. She was a great neighbor. Not around much and as respectful of his privacy as he was of hers. A marvelous business arrangement if such a concept existed. Someday Rick hoped to own her land when she was ready to sell it and double his empire without having to go all big city and corporate.

He continued inserting spiles until the sun faded and hunger knocked on the walls of his stomach. He’d install the taps on his neighbor’s trees tomorrow and spend tonight going through three boxes of donated books back at his cabin for the book swap. The bonus was he got first dibs on anything of interest in the donations, and he’d made some good finds in the past. An early edition Kafka. A leather-bound collection of Shakespeare plays. An autographed Jane Austen. Those finds were now displayed on the floor to ceiling bookcases that lined three of Rick’s living room walls.

Anticipating the buzz he always got when surrounded by books, he pulled his sled around to head home, but as he turned he dropped the rope attached to the sled. He was on enough of a hill that the sled immediately slid away from him. Not wanting to have to chase the sled and his tools all the way to the bottom, Rick ran after it in his snowshoes.

No easy feat.

He started off all right until the tip of his left snowshoe got caught under a fallen branch hidden below the snow. His ankle made an unnatural grinding sound as his foot stayed wedged in one direction and his body fell the opposite way. He let out a howl of pain that had Poe darting over to sniff his face.

“Back, Poe.” Rick pushed the coyote out of his space, but she circled around him, sniffing and whimpering.

The hurt in his ankle was a slow burning that got hotter as he tried to release his boot from the snowshoe. Every movement sent ripples of fire up his entire left leg. After too many minutes of struggling, he finally managed to unfasten the straps. His foot spilled off the snowshoe and when it landed in the snow, he hurled a shout into the arm of his fleece jacket. The muffled agony further agitated Poe who began howling. A few dogs replied, and Rick suddenly felt very Stephen King.

Not a great feeling.

Knowing it would be dark soon, he tried to stand. That went okay until he put his weight on his left foot and crumpled right back down to the ground.

Dammit. I don’t need this now.

He grumbled under his breath as Poe ran a little ahead of their position and then galloped back to him. When she came close enough to sniff him again, he grabbed her. Pointing her toward the sled resting at the bottom of the hill, he said, “Go get it. Get it, Poe.”

Poe barked once and shot down the hill toward the sled. She dug in the snow a bit and touched her nose to the ground. When she raised her head, the rope was in her teeth. She bounded back up the hill with the sled gliding along behind her, and Rick cursed over his stupidity.

What good is having a coyote if I don’t know how to use her?

Poe continued past him with the sled until it rested on level land. The coyote stood by the sled and barked at him as if to say, “C’mon. Let’s go.”

“Would love to, Poe.” As much as he didn’t want to, Rick untied his boot and slid it off with a few grunts of pain. He removed his thermal sock and glanced at the instant swelling in his ankle. That was the last thing he saw.

When he opened his eyes again, the snow-covered canopy of trees had been replaced by the tongue-and-groove pine ceiling of his living room. He was still in the jeans he’d worn during the day and his thermal shirt, but a flannel blanket had been thrown over him. Good thing too, because he was freezing.

And maybe a little dizzy. Definitely tired as all hell.

“You awake, sugar?” Aunt Joy came in from the kitchen.

He attempted to sit up, but found he didn’t have the strength.

“Easy, Rick. Take it slow.” Aunt Joy stood over him with a smile on her face he knew was forced.

“How’d I get back here?”

“When nine o’clock rolled around and we didn’t see this face,” she bent to pat his cheek, “we knew something not good had happened.”

Aunt Joy helped him wiggle up to a sitting position on the couch, and a plastic air cast spanning up to his calf stared back at him from the armrest on the other end. Rick let out a groan and flopped his head onto the back of the couch.

“Yeah, it’s severely sprained. Doctor Reslin made a special house call so we didn’t have to take you to the h-o-s-p-i-t-a-l.” Aunt Joy whispered the letters, and despite his situation, Rick appreciated the woman’s tenderness. She knew better than anybody how much he hated hospitals.

“The police found you in the snow, one shoe on, one shoe off, and out cold in more ways than one.” Aunt Joy sat on the edge of the old chest Rick used as a coffee table and rested her chin in her hands. “Gave an old lady a good scare, sugar. I don’t like when you do that.”

He pulled his gaze from the cast and looked at Aunt Joy’s face. Her brown eyes were watery, her nose a little red. He reached his hand over and tugged one of hers out from beneath her chin. Giving it a squeeze, he said, “I’m sorry, Aunt Joy. I tripped. It was stupid.”

“It was an accident. Could happen to anyone.” She placed her other hand atop his. “Just glad you’re okay. You’re a miserable hermit most of the time, but I kind of love you, you know?”

“I love you too.”

“Of course you do. Nobody takes better care of you than me.” Aunt Joy patted his cheek again and stood. “Okay, here’s the scoop. Cast for a few weeks. Stay off the ankle for the rest of this week and keep it elevated, then Doc left you a cane so you can hobble around.”

Rick opened his mouth to protest, but Aunt Joy waved him off. “I know. I know. ‘Aunt Joy, how am I supposed to stay off my feet when there’s so much to do?’ Listen, kid, this is the way the cards got dealt this hand. Roll with it.”

She made it sound like no big deal. No big deal that he was reduced to the functioning level of an infant during a key time for his syrup business.

“It doesn’t hurt that much,” Rick said.

“That’s because you’ve got these in you.” Aunt Joy reached to an end table by the couch and shook an orange bottle of prescription pills. “Wonder drugs. Once they wear off, you’ll be writhing in pain.” She leaned in close to his ear. “Here’s a tip, sugar. Don’t let them wear off.”

****

Author Bio: ???????????????????????????????

Christine DePetrillo tried not being a writer. She attempted to ignore the voices in her head, but they would not stop. The only way she could achieve peace and quiet was to write the stories the voices demanded. Today, she writes tales meant to make you laugh, maybe make you sweat, and definitely make you believe in the power of love.

She lives in Rhode Island and occasionally Vermont with her husband, two cats, and a big, black German Shepherd who guards her fiercely against all evils.

Find Christine’s other titles at www.christinedepetrillo.weebly.com.  Connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/christinedepetrilloauthor, on Twitter at @cdepetrillo, and at The Roses of Prose group blog on the 4th and 14th of every month at www.rosesofprose.blogspot.com.